For those of us who have grown up visiting theme parks in Orlando, taking advantage of that four hour drive from Miami, the same old attractions can start to get a little boring. Luckily, the amusement parks have started to notice they were in need of a revamping. This year alone, we have seen the openings of several new attractions and announcements for future expansions - like the Diagon Alley area in Universal Studios set for a 2014 opening.
With summer vacation in our midst, it's time to take advantage once again and plan a trip to revisit some old childhood memories and forge new ones with these awesome new attractions, sitting pretty just a short distance away from Miami.
Fantasyland, Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom (Orlando)
The new Fantasyland in Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom Park is fantastical for many reasons. For starters, the expansion came complete with not one, but two new castles, meaning there are now three castles in one park. Though neither of the two new royal quarters are as large as the signature Cinderella castle, Beast's castle -- which is actually a new restaurant called Be Our Guest -- and Prince Eric's castle -- which is a cute ride dubbed Under the Sea -- are both still pretty awesome. Other new additions include a live storytelling ride, Enchanted Tales with Belle, and a new quick stop food joint, Gaston's Tavern. This area of the park will continue to expand and will finally be complete in 2014.
Transformers: The Ride-3D, Universal Studios (Orlando)
With all the hype surrounding the Transformers franchise, it only seems fitting to monopolize on it and make an amusement park ride. Similar to The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman ride, Transformers: The Ride-3D depicts a battle between the Autobots and Decepticons, and the ploy is that us humans need to prepare for battle and help the good guys win. The ride is meant to immerse you into the world of the Transformers, so pop on your 3D glasses and help the Autobots save mankind.
Springfield, Universal Studios (Orlando)
The Simpsons Ride gets some company this summer with the grand opening of Springfield! For lovers of the show, this new expansion will definitely tickle your fancy. Attractions now open include classic restaurants from the series, such as Krusty Burger, The Frying Dutchman, Lard Lad Donuts, and even a Moe's Tavern. This part of the park is still under construction, when it is fully finished there will be a Kang & Kodos alien-themed spinning ride next to the existing Simpsons Ride. There's much to look forward to at Universal Studios in the coming year.
World of Chima, Legoland (Winter Haven)
Presented by Cartoon Network, the new World of Chima area at Legoland includes an interactive water ride, The Quest for CHI, where you ride around in a boat and get to shoot water from tiny water canons. So what if it's a little childish? It's never a bad idea to indulge your inner 12 year old.
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Antarctica: Empire of the Penguin, SeaWorld (Orlando)
This new icy addition to SeaWorld is all about adorable penguins! The main attraction is the Empire of the Penguins ride, which takes you inside the world and life of a penguin. What's cool about this ride - aside from the spectacular visuals - is that it's trackless, with riders moving along in vehicles driven by a first-of-its-kind sensor -- even crossing paths with other moving vehicles. Riders will have the option to choose from two different adventure versions. SeaWorld has even created a new theme song to go along with this new section of the park, and if you're really into songs about penguins, it's available to download for free.